Barcelona boss Tito Vilanova will undergo surgery today on a saliva gland and will be out of action for around six weeks while he is treated for cancer with radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
The club have moved swiftly to appoint his assistant manager Jordi Roura as the temporary manager of the side until Vilanova is fit enough to resume his post with the Spanish giants.
The news is a huge setback for the club but they remain firm betting favourites to win La Liga this season with a nine point lead over Atletico Madrid. You can keep an eye on the latest La Liga betting odds from www.soccernews.com throughout this situation.
His illness does mean there is a threat he could be advised to step down from top flight European management which would open up a number of possible options for the club.
One choice could be to appoint Roura to the full time position based on the impact he has as the temporary boss of the side. The club are fortunate that he has relevant and recent experience of the team having worked alongside Vilanova.
However, the club have suggested that Vilanova may be able to mix in a little bit of work with his treatment which means he will still have a say on team matters. This is an extremely positive indication that they expect him to make a full recovery in his second fight against the disease.
Another possible option for the club could be to entice back Pep Guardiola who stepped down as manager of the side last summer. Guardiola will sympathise deeply with Vilanova’s current situation and could be susceptible to an approach from the club even if it’s just a temporary arrangement.
The only problem with this approach is the fact that Guardiola has said he is in no rush to return to football management so it would be a deeply personal and emotional decision based on his own relationship with Vilanova.
Barcelona will also look to their key players during such a difficult spell for the club. The leadership qualities and experience of players such as Carles Puyol or Xavi will be crucial in terms of the success of the team this season.
Those individuals in the side have a huge role to play in helping Roura both on and off the pitch.
They need very little guidance in terms of how to play football because they are used to such an effective method and set of tactics but these players need to drive the rest of the side on and prevent any negativity creeping in as a result of the news around the manager.